Piano Music from Movies

Researching for a concert of music from movies requiring setting some constraints.

In anticipation of the 86th Academy Awards this Sunday 2nd March, I’m giving a concert of music specifically written for solo piano for film.

Just two years ago, I gave a concert of music from Oscar winning films – Academy Awards Concert. This time, music written for piano used in any movie is good enough for me.

I ask my music literature students to research music for cinema. Do the directors commission composers to write or do they look for pre-written music to use? Or both? Why was Debussy’s Clair de Lune chosen for Twilight and not Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata? Why was Clair de Lune used in the beach scene in Atonement?

The easy thing to do is to take music from my book “Film Music for Solo Piano: twenty-four pieces from classic films arranged for piano solo.” But, wait! these are not necessarily music originally written for the piano — only arranged for the piano.

How can I play the music without saying something about the movie or the part of the movie that the music accompanies?

Or should I introduce music of film composers such as Ennio Morricone or Dario Marianelli? The latter’s Dawn from “Pride and Prejudice” is absolutely mesmerizing.

Thanks to pianists and arrangers such as Sebastian Wolff who share their passions freely on the Internet, we now have a proliferation of sheet music for music in film, video games, TV ads, TV series, and more. Wolff’s arrangement of “Oogway Ascends” from “Kung Fu Panda” almost sounds like it was originally written for solo piano. If only there’s a search engine or a directory on his website, I’d be introducing his outputs to more people. Still, browsing his blogposts and arrangements reminds me to research into the growing field of music used in anime and video games.

Three of my students will be giving the opening act. [Hey! I think I’m starting a tradition here!] One will play Beethoven’s famous “Fur Elise” — which has been used in dozens of films. Another will play a contemporary classic, too new and too short for the movies, but nevertheless a good candidate.

Author: BLOGmaiden

As one of the earliest bloggers (since 1999), I enjoy meeting people who embrace "out-of-the-box" thinking and fear not the unknown. I believe in collaboration for sustainability because it increases stakeholder value.

4 thoughts on “Piano Music from Movies”

  1. Thank you for this!! I love using music from popular films to help inspire my students. I think it helps to make the overall experience of playing the piano fun and exciting which helps to keep them motivated.

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